Your phone is ringing, there are 100 assignments to correct, you can hear your kids fighting for the TV remote, and suddenly, the impossibility of creating lesson plans for the next class dawns on you…
Everywhere we go, stress shadows us constantly. Day in and day out, it haunts us, pushing us down into burnout from sheer exhaustion.
Stress is basically our body’s natural response to a situation wherein things are not happening the way we expect them to. We often envision ourselves achieving multiple things at the same time but end up entangling 5 things together, only to realise that we are all over the place, mixing up our personal and professional lives.
Ever heard of a superhero who’s perfect at everything? No, right?
Then why do we humans try to do multiple things at once?
While trying to do everything at once, we ultimately end up blurring the boundary lines of our personal and professional life every single day. As teachers, we must feel the joy of teaching, which drives us to add value to an individual’s life. But doing it in an unplanned way reduces it to a mere formality of getting things done, resulting in burnout and dissatisfaction.
Well, there’s always a way out. Though it might sound like a no-brainer, you can separate the personal from the professional through better organisation and time management.
Now, you must think, “Hey, all this looks good in theory. But how do I apply it in my classroom?” That’s exactly what you are going to find out now! The secrets to maintaining work-life balance as a teacher:
I want to begin by stressing the importance of lesson planning. As we know, without a plan, passion turns passive. Hence, we need to structure and document how we teach. How, you ask? Great question!
Before going into a class, create a lesson plan format by deciding how you are going to spend those 40-50 minutes. A few things to keep in mind while designing are:
Outline the objective and learning outcomes of the lesson (making a note of what the learner should know by the end of each lesson)
Activities required to achieve the desired learning outcomes
The time to be allotted to each activity
Assessment Criteria and Method of assessing the learning outcomes
Post-lesson Reflection - What worked and what didn’t
But is creating a lesson plan enough? Not even remotely. Following the lesson plans, reflecting on its effectiveness, and actually being consistent with this entire activity is absolutely critical.
After your lesson, try to observe and find out how closely you followed the lesson plan. Learn what works and what doesn’t. This will enable you to create even more effective lesson plans in the future.
In fact, here’s a little task: pick up a notepad and challenge yourself to think of your next lesson. What do you want your students to learn from it? What are some engaging activities that you can do in the classroom for it? How much time do you need for each activity?
Benefits: By teaching in a planned way, you can minimize the pressure of last-minute portion covering and taking remedial classes.
Management of Class Dynamics
Whether it’s a physical classroom or a virtual classroom, you CAN create a captivating atmosphere of learning. Yes, you read that right….even on online platforms.
Class dynamics refers to the communication and relationship between students, teachers, and classroom infrastructure. It has four components-physical, emotional, intellectual, and social.
Predicting the possible consequences of all classroom dynamics on each other helps us to be prepared for them in advance.
Here’s an example of a table that you can use to manage classroom dynamics:
Other aspects of classroom management that play a crucial role in creating a meaningful learning experience for students include
Building a robust Learner-Teacher Relationship
Periodic analysis of the success of teaching methods
Continuous evaluation of learning outcomes
Utilizing classroom infrastructure
Don’t shy away from making checklists; a simple to-do list can go a long way in getting things done!
Benefits: Helps organise the physical, emotional, intellectual, and social spaces, hence increasing efficiency.
Using Technology for Teaching and Learning
The face of education, as we knew, underwent a paradigm shift due to the pandemic. As teachers, we had to adapt our teaching styles to meet learner expectations in the digital environment as well. While we were able to do that extremely well, it definitely took a lot of time for most of us.
A major prerequisite for being a successful teacher in the 21st century is being comfortable in using online teaching tools in the classroom. But how is all of this related to work-life balance?
You see, technology makes things easier. It takes over the stress of teaching by handling repetitive actions, helping us to focus on the core of teaching and learning.
Think of it. You don’t have to go back to your home and check students’ test copies. Rather than using a classic pen-paper test and evaluating each student’s marks individually, you can simply design an objective test online and ask them to take it. The online test tool does the evaluation for you since you had to only tell it once about the right answers.
Use of technology -> Work done faster -> More time for Personal life.
Let’s look at some simple ways of using technology to improve learning in the classroom:
Using online tools for Lesson structuring: Gone are the days of messy, haphazard lecture notes. Now you can choose from a plethora of online resources to organize your lesson and maximize student engagement with clearly defined objectives. Tools to check out: Engrade, Prezi, and Canva
Using Audio-Visual Aids: We know that simply reading from lecture notes cannot hold students’ attention. Instead, infusing your lesson with images, presentations, and videos will make it more captivating and exciting. Tools to check out: YouTube, Kahoot, and Padlet
Using Smart Boards, playing interactive games: Smart Boards can be used to display presentations and conduct interactive gamified activities in the classroom. Tools to check out: Bamboozle, Sugarcane
Using a learning management system: LMS helps you keep track of your learners and their progress. Tools to check out Student Response Systems like Mentimeter, Kahoot.
Gen Z and Gen Alpha are very comfortable with technology, given that they had access to it since they were born. No wonder these 3-year old kids can find their favourite YouTube video and play it themselves. Hence, using Edu-tech tools enhances our learners’ sensory stimulation to ensure that effective learning occurs.
Benefits: Time management, effective execution along with ease of teaching and learning.
Assessment and Evaluation Skills
Often confused to be the same, evaluation and assessment are, in fact, different techniques. While evaluation focuses on whether learning outcomes are being met or not, assessments focus on how students achieve these outcomes.
We can use evaluation data to monitor learners’ achievements and progress, and design instructional content, activities, and assessments that meet their diverse needs.
Using pedagogical techniques to create conceptual assessments with practical applications is more beneficial than conducting rote-based and formulaic assessments. Once we know the problem areas for different students, we can direct our efforts to work on them positively.
There is no need to miss out on your child’s birthday party just because you have to correct subjective papers for final exam results due tomorrow. Use simple methods like employing rubrics and rating scales for assessment, which are time-efficient and learner-friendly.
Benefits: They are time-saving, reliable, unbiased, and easily explainable.
Well, it looks like balancing personal and professional life for teachers isn’t a myth after all. It is achievable! So, if you find yourself running behind on things, with piles of work stopping you from looking beyond, focus on the methods above to make your way to a perfect work-life balance.
To make sure you’re not left behind-IMPROVISE, ADAPT and OVERCOME!
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and also use the lemon zest to make lemon pie!
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Pooja, currently a Content Creator at Suraasa, is a former English teacher. On a personal note, she likes it when people follow her on Instagram.😀